With so many of us having our children at home at the moment, entertainment ideas may be running out a bit! We’ve put together some suggestions for keeping your children busy outside in the garden, which will hopefully give you time to concentrate on other things.
- A model activity: if your child is of an age to like playing with models, such as horses, dinosaurs, spaceships or farm animals, then how about making them a play garden? Make an oblong frame from four planks nailed together at the corners, and position it in a flat area of the garden. Fill it with sand or soil, then enlist your child to help create the perfect environment. Dinosaurs will need stones, some vegetation and maybe some water (sink a transparent plastic container in the sand and fill it). Farm animals will need buildings (made from wood or cardboard, depending on how creative you’re feeling!), roads made from gravel, fields made from real turf or astroturf and fencing.
- Delightful dens: most children love to have their own space. The ‘den’ can be as sophisticated as you like – a proper tree house, a homemade Wendy house, a roofed-in corner behind the garage or even a tent. Depending on age, children can help with construction!
- Hunting for fun: we’re going to sneak an educational one in, but if you’re careful they won’t notice! Plan a scavenger hunt, such as ‘find two oak leaves’, or ‘three white pebbles’, or ‘a bird’s feather’, depending on what you have in your garden. They can either bring each item to you to receive the next instruction, or put each one in a specified location where they’ll find the next note. This is great for improving botany skills!
- Grow for gold: Plant a mini vegetable garden with your child. Depending on age, you could go for something simple and guaranteed to give quick results, such as mustard and cress, or plant vegetables for an autumn harvest such as broccoli or onions.
- Swinging along: everyone loves a swing! If you have a suitable tree with really sturdy branches which hang over a soft surface (grass or bare earth, not gravel!), then it’s quick and cheap to put up a simple rope swing. This guide from the Visitor Safety Group has lots of information on how to do it safely, and what you need to check first.
- Sand in my toes: create your own DIY beach! Unless you you really, really like sand, we’d suggest building some kind of frame or pit to keep everything in one place. Fill the frame with sand (available from builders’ merchants). You’ll also need a hosepipe or some sort of water supply for splashing purposes! Then, add buckets, spades, ice cream and beach towels. Seagulls optional.
- Worming along: make a wormery! This is a simple project which helps to teach about how soil is made and what worms do for the garden. All you need is a large, clean glass jar with a lid, some sand, some soil and some leaves or vegetable peelings. Layer the sand and soil thinly throughout the jar, leaving about 5cm of space at the top. Add in the worms (you can let them do this part!) and top off the jar with the peelings or leaves. Help them punch a couple of holes in the jar lid, and screw it on. Cover the jar in brown paper, and put it somewhere dark such as the back of a cupboard. Leave it for two or three weeks, then retrieve it. The organic matter (peelings) should have gone, and been absorbed into the soil by the worms. The layers should be mixed up, and you should have a jar of rich, dark soil. Remember to tip it back into the garden when you’ve finished!
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